As many of you know, I volunteer part of my time lobbying for LGBTI equality in the halls of Parliament House, on behalf of ACE. Lobbying involves building relationships and stating (and restating) your case to as many people as will listen.

In the course of talking with people, you hear things. Over the past few years, I’ve heard many positive stories about things Julia Gillard has done affecting our community. However, gossip is just that and Gillard must be assessed on the basis of her ‘on the record’ results.

The Fair Work Act contains protection from discrimination on the basis of “sexual preference”. This provides assurances to almost all employees in Australia that they cannot be fired or treated unequally because of their sexual orientation.

The recent update to the ALP party platform contains reference to stamping out “homophobic bullying and harassment” in schools — an important issue to ensure the youth in our community are protected and supported throughout their education.

As the responsible minister for these examples, Gillard has read the electorate and deemed that they should be included, despite the objections of conservative elements within her party.

In July 2009 Gillard was asked about the marriage equality debate brewing at the ALP conference. She reaffirmed the Government’s view that marriage is between a man and a woman. While some will see this as being anti-LGBTI-equality, I am heartened by reports that it was Gillard who stood up to then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in order to allow the issue of marriage to be debated at the conference.

The above three examples give Gillard, in my view, 2.5 out of 3. Not bad for a prime minister installed by conservative factions of the ALP.

The question now is will PM Gillard continue standing up to the conservatives by giving the LGBTI community firm reasons to vote for her party in the upcoming federal election.

A ministerial advisory committee on whole-of-government issues. Long overdue anti-discrimination laws (supported by 85 percent of Australians).

Identity documentation appropriate for sex and gender diverse people.

Just three relatively non-controversial issues that could be committed to in time for the next election.

As a progressive, female, red-haired leader, I’m confident Gillard empathises with the LGBTI community’s sense of inequality. The question now is can PM Gillard channel that personal empathy into becoming the great red hope for our community’s equality?

By Corey Irlam – Australian Coalition for Equality.

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